Anatolia: A long-time plant refuge area documented by pollen records over the last 23million years

Demet Biltekin, Speranta Maria Popescu, Jean Pierre Suc*, Pierre Quézel, Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno, Nurdan Yavuz, M. Namik Çağatay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


North and South Anatolia areas are today refuge areas for plants that were previously widespread in the European and Mediterranean regions. Thirteen well-dated Anatolian pollen records spanning the last 23. million years allow for a reconstruction of the history of several plants that have disappeared from this region or are surviving in this refuge area. For example, in this study we show that Cedrus is an ancient element of the Anatolian flora. Tropical elements lived in this area until the early Pliocene. Subtropical elements became extinct in the Middle to Late Pleistocene, except for Glyptostrobus (Taxodiaceae swamp tree) and Carya (Juglandaceae, a warm-temperate tree), which may have persisted until recently in this area. In addition, a comparison of palaeofloras coming from different locations ranging from 36-38°N and 40-42°N latitudinal intervals in the northeastern Mediterranean (including Anatolian coastal regions) with those from Europe and North Africa has been done. This shows that the North and South Anatolia areas appear to have been separate refuges for thermophilous-hygrophilous plants since the early Pliocene (ca. 5. million years). Today, Anatolia is a plant refuge area for warm-temperate species, which have almost completely (Zelkova) or completely (Pterocarya, Liquidambar, Parrotia persica) disappeared from other European and peri-Mediterranean regions. Taxodiaceae swamp ecosystems (Glyptostrobus) might have recently disappeared from the southern Black Sea shoreline. New pollen data from Anatolia also allowed us in calibrating the timing of floristic extinctions at a continental scale and helped us in clarifying the reasons of the different floral extinctions and dynamics (breaking up and shifting) in the refuge areas. Thanks to global warming there is a potential for the survival and expansion of thermophilous species (Pterocarya fraxinifolia, Zelkova abelica, Liquidambar orientalis) in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Anatolia
  • Late Cenozoic
  • Plant refuges
  • Pollen


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